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Who Can Challenge a Will

Under Illinois Probate Law you can challenge the validity of a will if you have reason to believe that the will does not truly reflect the wishes of the testator. Each year after losing a loved one many people in Chicago are further distressed after they learn the contents of the decedent’s will. However, just because someone is not happy with the terms of a will does not mean that they have the right to challenge it in court. In order to challenge a will you must have standing. Legal standing is the term to that defines who can challenge a will. If you have concerns about the validity of a will, it is important that you contact a Chicago will contest lawyer who has significant experience litigating estate cases in Chicago courts.

Legal Standing in Illinois

In order to have the legal right to contest a will in Chicago you must have legal standing. That means that you must be an interested party. Legal standing means that you have a direct, immediate financial interest in the estate. In practical terms that means the only people who can challenge a will are those who are named as beneficiaries in the will and those people who are legal heirs of the decedent based on Illinois laws on intestate succession. Oftentimes beneficiaries and heirs are the same people, but not always. For more information on who can challenge a will and if you are unsure as to whether you have standing to contest a will, contact a Chicago will contest lawyer.

Grounds for Challenging a Will

Besides having legal standing to challenge a will it is also necessary that you have grounds for challenging the will. The Illinois Probate Act allows interested parties to challenge the validity of a will under very limited circumstances. A will maybe challenge if there is evidence that the testator did not have the mental capacity to make a will. Another basis for a will challenge is that is fraud. For example, if there is evidence that the will is a forgery or that it is fake, there would be grounds for a challenge. If there is evidence of undue influence, meaning that someone manipulated a vulnerable testator into making a will that the testator would not have otherwise made, there would be grounds for a will challenge.

Filing a Will Challenge

Another requirement is that the petition to contest the will be properly filed. Under Illinois law a petition to challenge a will must be filed within six months after the will was filed in probate court.

Consequences of a Will Challenge

Keep in mind that regardless of whether or not a will challenge is successful, it will extend probate. Generally, in Chicago probate takes at least 6 months and often up to 12 months. Before probate can proceed, the judge must determine if the will is valid. This will delay the process. If the court determines that the will is not valid, a prior will, if any will be probated. Otherwise the estate will be administered based on the rules of intestate succession. Under intestate succession rules the surviving spouse would inherit the entire estate if there are no children. If there is a spouse and children, the spouse would receive ½ of the estate and the children would share in the other half. If there are children, but no surviving spouse, the children will share in the estate.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Will contests can be emotional and contentious. They can also be complex and procedurally confusing. To ensure that you legal rights are protected, it is important to have a skilled will contest attorney serving Chicago on your side. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing executors, beneficiaries, and heirs in disputes related to wills, trusts, and estate documents. We will explain the details of who can challenge a will and help ensure that your interests are protected. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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